A New Year’s Resolution for Patent Attorneys, IP counsels and R&D Executives: Time to Evaluate your patent search quality

Evalueserve’s new white paper reveals process to assess and measure patent search quality

These days, patent searches and patent analytics are used mostly for cases with significant legal risks and as a basis for important decisions in R&D. Assuring quality patent searches is especially critical in these cases where the stakes are high.  However, many patent attorneys, IP counsels and R&D Executives may not be aware that search quality can and should be controlled in a quantitative and qualitative way. Careful analysis of the search process yields a way to control and improve patent search results. Evalueserve’s new white paper reveals a process and a formula that can be used to calculate search quality.

Evalueserve’s Search Quality Index (SQI)

Over the past 20 years, Evalueserve has delivered probably the largest number of patent searches globally of any private supplier. During this time, we have had the opportunity to review and finely tune our search processes and began to develop first a theoretical and then a practical framework to effectively control, measure and improve search quality.

Now for the first time, Evalueserve is sharing the key elements of a controlled search process, including the theoretical background that illustrates the important link between search quality, risk and economic considerations. Building on this 20 years of research, Evalueserve has released a new white paper to show how search quality can be measured and controlled. The central theorem for the search quality formula is based on Evalueserve’s Search Quality Index (SQI)– a tool to control, document and improve Patent Search Quality. The beauty of the SQI model is that it also illustrates the link to risk and economic considerations. High precision comes at a higher cost which is worth spending for some searches, while other searches may require lower precision at a lower cost.            

Is Measuring Search Quality Important?

Most IP Managers and patent attorneys would agree that patent search quality is a highly relevant problem. However, patent search quality has been a black box for many years. While it’s tempting to simply assume that the patent searcher’s qualifications and experience will yield successful search results, this blind trust is not sufficient or prudent. A successful search depends on many factors, as outlined in Evalueserve’s new white paper. Assuring quality searches is especially critical when the stakes are high, such as for cases with significant legal risks and as a basis for important decisions in R&D- all cases when patent searches and patent analytics are required.

In recent years, automation has been the key theme dominating discussions about patent searches and patent analytics.  Professionals are keen to discover which of the many tools and patent databases on the market would be best for the automated search or patent analytics. Although the quality of the patent database may be important for information professionals, it’s not as important for decision makers in IP and R&D. Ultimately, some search quality and reliability depend on a combination of the search professional’s work and the end user’s method of using the patent search database.

IP Managers, Patent Attorneys and R&D Executives should know that search quality can and should be controlled in a qualitative and quantitative way. Assessing search quality requires careful analysis of the search framework, process and expectations, but will pay dividends in time and costs saved. Most importantly, this process yields a way to control and improve patent searches. 

Evalueserve’s White Paper: Control Patent Search Quality: How and Why IP Managers Should Assess Patent Search Quality

One of the main reasons we began to develop the Search Quality Index and FTO risk frameworks was the importance of communication between searchers and search recipient. As we explain in more detail in our white paper, improperly scoping the search in advance is probably the largest risk factor for errors in the search. Misunderstanding the subject matter and the search background will lead to quality issues throughout the process and in the search result. Evalueserve’s white paper shows how the SQI and FTO frameworks are key instruments in ensuring controlled communication and controlled search quality.

Through this roadmap for controlled search quality, Evalueserve’s white paper reveals search quality formulas that illustrate the important link between search quality, risk and economic considerations. Search Quality is not a “one size fits all” for every search. For example, we expect 100% recall for a Freedom to Operate (FTO) search, where searches should discover all patents that the patent attorney needs to review for an FTO opinion, without too many extra results that cost attorney’s time to review. However, patentability and multi-concept searches add another requirement as more documents must be identified in the search for novelty destroying and obviousness (or inventive step.)

Therefore, a critical first step to a successful search is to determine the expected search quality during the planning phase. As Evalueserve’s SQI model illustrates, not all searches have to be complete- and not all searches have to be precise. By defining search quality expectations during the planning phase based on the use case, we can ensure the highest quality search results required for the lowest time and costs.

Evalueserve’s white paper provides all these frameworks and formulas to ensure you are properly scoping your search to achieve the highest quality search for the lowest time and effort every time.

Risks and Costs are High: Resolve to evaluate your patent searches

Particularly in cases such as FTO searches or when using patent landscapes for R&D roadmap decisions, the legal and financial risks are high. Without controlling your search quality, you are likely spending more time and costs in your patent searches and/or risking poor search results. Understanding how to evaluate search quality is critical for making these high-stake decisions.

An easy first step of your New Year’s resolution to evaluate your patent search process is to download Evalueserve’s white paper here.

Download the White Paper on Patent Search Quality here


In addition, you can explore a discounted, controlled search with one of Evalueserve’s experts who can walk you through the process. As outlined in the white paper, we will go through the following steps:

  1. Define the search properly using our proprietary Evalueserve FTO risk matrix
  2. Define the initial search queries
  3. Run delta searches and provide statistics and learnings. This may include more steps than listed above (such as special searches on specialized databases)
  4. Repeat the process as many times as required
  5. Deliver a final report.

Contact us here if you’d like more information.

What other patent search resolutions do you have for the New Year? Let us know in the comments!

Wishing you a happy, healthy and productive New Year full of successful patent searches!

Urs Dommann

Urs Dommann, who heads up IP and R&D Solutions at Evalueserve, is passionate about improving knowledge processes and data science to optimize quality in patent search, and is a regular speaker on this topic at IP Service World. Urs and his team created the Information Adventures blog after recognizing that moving through the complex world of data and information in IP or R&D is like venturing high into the mountains or other seemingly uncharted territory – something he loves to do in the Swiss Alps near Zurich where he lives. He’s enjoying using the blog to share theories, insights about IP and R&D, and starting a conversation as a basis of exploring – together with clients – new paths to success.

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